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BSU Makes First Ever Appearance in Regional Mock Trial Competition

Nick Lorenson (left) and Ida Brooks (right) make some last minute preparations before the final match on Sunday. Photo by: Andrew Lindquist

Andrew Lindquist | Copy Editor | 2-14-2012

On the weekend of February 11th and 12th, the BSU Mock Trial team went to the University of Wisconsin-Superior (UWS) for their very first regional tournament.  Mock Trial is an extracurricular activity in which students play lawyers and witnesses in a fictional court case.  The competition at UWS was a tournament sanctioned by the American Mock Trial Association (AMTA).  At BSU, students can take it as a one-credit Political Science course, or participate without receiving academic credit. 

BSU has had a Mock Trial team for the past three years, but it is only this year that they have competed against other schools.  BSU sent a team to two invitational competitions last semester, but has never before sent a team to a sanctioned tournament.

Each round is officiated by two judges, and each one scores the players on a separate ballot.

BSU’s Mock Trial team at UWS consisted of nine students:  Defense attorneys Andrew Lindquist, a senior, junior Kelsey Fuerst, and junior Chris Restemayer; prosecuting attorneys Nick Nelson, a senior, Taylor Burdick, a sophomore, and freshman Ida Brooks.  Seniors Aleesha Larsen and Nick Lorenson as well as junior Ashley Boone played witnesses.  Fuerst and Brooks also played witnesses when they were not playing attorneys.  Larsen was prepared to play three different witnesses, two of which were called that weekend.

Ashley Clark, junior Cheyenne Horien, and senior Alana McElhinney are also on BSU’s Mock Trial team, but were not present at UWS.

This year’s case is a criminal proceeding, with the defendant, Danny Dawson, being charged with murder and driving under the influence of alcohol after she was in a car accident resulting in her friend’s death.

The team arrived in Wisconsin Friday afternoon, and competed as the Defense.  They went up against Macalester College.  In Mock Trial, the Prosecution presents their case-in-chief, followed by that of the Defense.  Each side is made up of three attorneys and three witnesses.

Fuerst gave the Defense’s opening statement.  During their case-in-chief, BSU called Lorenson, playing Jordan James, a bartender; Larsen as Leslie Roman, a traffic accident reconstruction expert; and Brooks as the defendant, Danny Dawson.  Lindquist gave the closing argument.
BSU lost the round by a narrow margin.

Saturday morning, BSU played as the Prosecution against UWS.  After Burdick gave the opening statement, the team called Fuerst, playing Taylor Hopson, a friend of the victim; Boone as Avery Smith, an expert on alcohol toxicology; and Larsen as Ryan Foster, the arresting officer.  At the end of their case-in-chief, Nelson gave the closing argument.

One judge scored BSU higher than UWS, and one did not.

BSU competed in two more rounds that weekend, one on Saturday afternoon and another on Sunday morning.  The teamed performed superbly in both matches.

Several BSU students participated in bye rounds.  Since there was an uneven number of teams at UWS, there needed to be a bye-buster team for the “odd team out” to compete against.  Bye teams are made from students from various schools and are different each round.

These teams are thrown together about half an hour before a round, and the team members have about 20 minutes to introduce themselves and assign roles.  The BSU students who competed on the bye-buster team were Burdick, Lindquist, and Lorenson.  Burdick played James, Lindquist played Foster, and Lorenson played Sam Lyons, a cab driver.

The final round on Sunday was followed by an awards ceremony.  There were awards for attorneys and witnesses, as well as the coveted Spirit of AMTA award.  This award is given to the team that best exemplifies the ideals of honesty, civility and fair play.  It was awarded to Hamline University.

Bemidji State’s Ida Brooks won an Outstanding Witness award.  This was Brooks’ first time participating in a college Mock Trial tournament, although she has done so at the high school level.  This is also the first time a BSU student has won a Mock Trial award, although Larsen was just one point short of winning an Outstanding Witness award at an invitational competition at Macalester College last December.

BSU and St. Norbert College were recognized at the awards ceremony as teams that were at their first regional competition.

The Mock Trial team plans to present its case at the Student Scholarship and Creative Achievement Day on April 4th.